Learning Spanish


My sweet little boy has made friends with our maid’s four sons, and they play every Friday, which has forced them to learn some English and M-Cat to learn some Spanish. Well, one day at the store, M-Cat saw this little notebook and asked me if he could buy it. Now, this is a child who has always been a very reluctant writer, but he had an idea, and he was motivated.

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Yesterday ended up being one of those days where I wanted M-Cat to do one thing (math), but he had his heart set on another. He was just enraptured with filling his little notebook with Spanish, so I had to let him go with it. He was at it for 2 hours. He was using google translate and an English-Spanish dictionary, and then we got on YouTube and found some helpful videos for children.DSCN0389

At this rate he will have his notebook filled up with Spanish in no time. We lived here in Peru once before, when he was 2 and 3-years old, and he knew Spanish then. He could speak to the maid and the gardener and the bodyguard (yes, we had a bodyguard) in Spanish and he could talk to us in English. If someone didn’t respond the first time, he’d switch to the other language. It was amazing, but as soon as we moved back to the states, he dropped Spanish and refused to continue to practice it. So it’s fun to see that desire to learn spark in him, and to see him find ways to teach himself.

Julio & Marcus still hiking

M-Cat riding on the bodyguard’s shoulders in Puno.


M-Cat helping the gardener.


A Day in the Life- Happy Hearts Homeschool (ages 18, 16, & 11)


A little background first- We are currently living the expat life in Lima, Peru. It’s not very glamorous, but it is interesting (although it may not seem very interesting based on this post, but right now the kids and I are stranded at home during the day while my husband is at work, so most days we just hang at home all day and we do our grocery shopping at night together as a family, and we get out on the weekends for sight seeing and such.) It’s like a long, glorified camping trip! No, really, that’s what it’s like.


Darcie, me (the mom), Marissa and Marcus

This morning I was up and going by 7am because that is when my hubby got up for work. I spent the following hour in personal scripture study and exercising to one of my work-out dvds. Today’s choice was two 10-minute dance routines. I love this me-time. It’s the perfect way to start my day. 

Meanwhile, my 18-year old daughter, Darcie, was getting ready for her day at Westfalia orphanage. She’s been volunteering there twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, and you can see her pictures and read all about her experiences at her blog.

Also meanwhile, my 16-year old daughter and my 11-year old son got up on their own and started reading. They both love to read so it’s no wonder that’s how they start (and end) their day. Marcus has been dutifully reading his scriptures first thing, before he dives into his latest book.


Our breakfast routine varies. Some mornings the four of us eat together. Other times only Marissa and Marcus eat together while I’m working out and Darcie is sleeping in. It just depends on the day. Today I found Darcie downstairs in the kitchen with two other youth from our church. They were packing up sack lunches and grabbing water bottles. Soon after, they all left in a taxi. (Marissa will join them on Friday. She wanted to focus on school work today.) I sat down with my other two at our dining table, all of us thrilled to be eating Rice Krispies. Oh the little things expats get excited about!

DSCN0308  These little beauties cost us a small fortune ($10 a box!!) and are a rare find here so this is a treat for us.

After breakfast, Marissa retreats to her bedroom where she studies and watches her online classes. Both she and Marcus are distance students with the one-of-a-kind Liahona Academy. This is Marissa’s third year with Liahona, but Marcus’ very first. He is in their youngest distance class, Liahona Junior, made up of 5th and 6th graders from all over the U.S. and at least three other countries (I know there is a student in Italy and another in Germany). They have a class blog if you’d like to check it out. 

I finally take my shower and dress for the day. Today my shower started out hot, but quickly turned a chilly cold, so it was a quick shower. Told you. Camping trip. While this was going on, Marcus was supposed to be straightening up his room, making his bed, and putting his toys and gadgets away. Today’s a day the maid comes to clean our house, and I never want her to do for my kids what they can do for themselves. So, she doesn’t make our beds or put away our laundry, and we don’t pile up dishes from the night before and leave them for her. She has enough dishes to hand wash at her own house (no one here has automatic dishwashers).  

As I run a comb through my damp hair, I start loading Marcus’ online videos from yesterday. Marissa can watch her Liahona videos either live or recorded, but Marcus only gets the recorded option. So we are always one day (or more) behind. But it all works out because Liahona doesn’t have school on Fridays, which means we have Mondays to catch up.

I start a load of laundry going. Our laundry room is outside, behind our kitchen, which is fun (not).

DSCN0274Before summer time hit Lima (in December), Marcus and I often watched his videos together on the family room couch, but it’s so hot and muggy right now that we prefer to sit on my bed in the only air-conditioned room of our house. Marcus has four online classes: Reading, English, History and Science, in that order. He has four notebooks, one for each class, and I make him take short notes on each class, giving one page to each day. He also takes his quizzes in his notebooks, and keeps test-notes in them as well. In the middle of Marcus’ History video, our maid arrives. I let her in and as we chat for a bit, I check on the laundry and keep it going.

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We squeeze math in at some point, sometimes before we start watching the videos, sometimes after. We use the Learn Math Fast System for math. I think it’s a great math program. We don’t spend a lot of time on math because Marcus picks it up fast. I do make sure he’s mastered one skill before we move onto the next.

Today we break for lunch around 12:30 or 1pm. Marissa opts to eat her lunch in her room so she can keep at it with her classes, but on other days she joins us at the table. Our maid eats with us, too and this is our down-time where we just relax for a bit. After lunch, Marcus and I usually read together. Currently we are reading Warriors Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter. It’s about warrior cats.

The cover of Into the Wild.

After our read-together time, Marcus may jump back into an assignment or tackle a science experiment, or he may get back to his personal reading or whatever catches his interest.  Throughout the day, I often end up retrieving laundry and folding it, taking Marissa a snack of apple slices, checking on the maid to make sure she’s drinking enough water and staying hydrated, and just chatting with her because she’s also my friend (she asked for this job to help her family earn more money). And when she’s ready to head home, Marcus and I sometimes walk her to her bus stop. Today she heads out around 4pm which is around the time Darcie makes it back from Westfalia.

On Fridays my maid brings her four boys over to play with Marcus and on those days we do what we can ’til they come over late morning and then we pick up after they’ve left, or just catch up on Monday. It’s summer time here so the local kids are out of school ’til March. I figure his play time with them is good Spanish practice anyway.

Between 6 and 7pm we eat dinner together as a family, and then we unwind the rest of the night, sometimes watching a movie together, and trying to end our day in family scripture study and prayer. We are all habitual night-owls, and some of us are trying to reform ourselves, but it’s a work in progress. Electronics have to be off by 9 so that only reading and journals are allowed after that. 

And, that, more or less, is a typical homeschooling day at Happy Hearts.

Favorite Series


Favorite Series

The Guardians (books one through four)
by William Joyce

Over December and January, my son and I read these wonderful adventure books together. We can’t wait to read book five.

Living in Peru



Currently, my husband, and three of our four children, and I, are living in Lima, Peru. We live in our own little fortress. In other words, we have very high cement and brick walls, topped by electric fence, surrounding our small yard. This is the view, looking out from our front door to our garden door.


This is what my house looks like from the street. It’s not much to look at! It’s a typical Peruvian box house, very bland in color and outward appearance. The house itself isn’t too bad. I don’t like my kitchen, and I wish my laundry room was inside, but it’s a comfortable house for us as far as size and layout goes. We have 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths.


Here’s what it looks like looking in from the garden door to the front door. The window above the front door is my bedroom window.


And this is our car port. I love the basketball hoop placement. The lower window is the den and the window above is the master bedroom. The wall to the back of the car port is a storage room and that side of the house leads to the laundry area and maid’s quarters which both sit outside the kitchen.